Casa Roma is in the village of Vergemoli, in Garfagnana, an hour and a quarter’s drive north from Pisa airport. The village is on a hilltop, with beautiful mountain views on all sides. Perfect for nature lovers.
entrance-hall / sitting room
dining-room / lounge (with traditional open fireplace)
large dining-kitchen, with fridgefreezer, double sink, gas hob/oven, washing-machine, small electric oven, toaster, etc
shower-room (shower, bidet, toilet, washbasin) french windows onto
large terrace with table, chairs, parasol and sun loungers: gets sun all day and is not overlooked: panoramic view of valley and mountains
FIRST FLOOR: 2 double bedrooms (with double beds), one facing the small square and the church, one giving onto the valley with views of the Pania, triple bedroom (double + single beds), with view over village and western end of valley
bathroom (bath / shower, toilet, bidet, washbasin)
BASEMENT: converted for living but not yet in use. Gives access to garden with table, chairs, parasol.
The house has mains gas, electricity, water and drainage. It is double-glazed on the valley side with external shutters to all windows and doors. It has central heating - though this is never needed in summer!
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Guests have access to TV, wifi internet,
NOTE: charges are based on occupancy of 7 people, in case of up to 4 guests charges are lower. Contact us for details.
Weitere wichtige Infos
We have rented houses in Italy for several years and have learned a lot about what is needed so, in spite of the detail, we think the following descriptions can only help you to have a great time.
1. Our address is:
Rosie Goldsmith and Max Easterman
Via Roma (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) Vergemoli (LU)
2. In EMERGENCIES ONLY our mobile phone numbers are:
ROSIE: +(PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)
MAX: +(PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)
OUR UK ADDRESS IS:
94 GOLDSMITH AVENUE
LONDON W3 6HW
(EMAIL HIDDEN) or
(EMAIL HIDDEN) or
There are no fluent English speakers in the village; you’ll have to speak Italian! We – and the Danish couples – are the only foreign residents in Vergemoli.
3. Contact in the village itself:
Via Roma 1
55020 Vergemoli (LU)
tel: (+(PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)
[This number is a land line. “0583” is the local code. REMEMBER, unlike in most countries, YOU DON’T DROP THE ZERO when calling Italian numbers from abroad or within Italy if your UK mobile requires you to use the international code +39 for making local calls.]
The Assoggiu / Venturelli family live in the big yellow house on the square straight opposite our house. Like EVERYONE in the village they are very friendly and helpful. They hold the keys to the house. If you’re likely to arrive later than 2200h, please phone and tell them, so they can leave the keys under one of the plantpots by our front door…they go to bed early!
Sandra Assoggiu, Maria’s daughter (and married to Bruno), will clean the house after you’ve left; please let her know when you’re leaving and put the payment (as below) on the kitchen table:
1- 3 people€45
4+ people / families with children€60
If you have problems with utilities in the house - water, plumbing, electricity, gas, central heating – the man to contact is Giulio Benelli: Via Vignale (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN). Our friend Anette Berglund Simonsen, who lives at Via del Giardino 4 (about 50 metres up towards the square, on the right opposite the palazzo), speaks perfect English and will tell Giulio what the problem is. If he can’t sort it out, he will know who can. He will bill us direct if necessary. His wife, Anna Maria, speaks wonderfully clear Italian – very easy to understand (unlike some of the local people, who have strong Tuscan accents).
4. In serious emergencies, our close friend Claudia Catelli will help out: +(PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) (her cellphone) or (EMAIL HIDDEN)
Claudia has fluent English but she does not live in the village. She divides her time between Molazzana (20 minutes’ drive away), and Como – mainly the latter.
If you lock yourself out of the house, there are spare keys available: the Assoggius have a second set.
5. Medical Help: there’s a FIRST-AID KIT in the shower-room, off the kitchen. Please replace any materials you use – the next visitors may need them.
If you need a doctor, Dott. Severino Balducci visits the village every Friday morning – Sandra will tell you where to find him. Otherwise, his surgery is in Gallicano, in the pink building complex on the small square, opposite the Banca Toscana (just off the road out to Lucca).
ONCE INSIDE CASA ROMA
As you come down the winding road to our house you’ll recognize CASA ROMA, No 13, from its white walls and golden-brown shutters. It is on the right hand side just before a little square, the ‘aia’ (= threshing floor, which is what it originally was). It’s recently been re-paved along with the renovation of the other large house on the square.
The house number is on the door – and our names are on the bell-push. It is on three floors. The second key on your ring is for the external door to the basement, in the utility room. You shouldn’t normally need to use this. Keys for the garden and terrace doors are in the doors themselves.
7. The house has 3 double bedrooms – Yellow, Lavender and Blue respectively. It can sleep 7 people very comfortably (the Lavender Room has both a double and an additional single bed).
8. In the sitting / dining-room, there’s a sofa-bed for occasional extra visitors. You’ll also find an audio stack, including a CD-player (with a big collection of CDs) and a satellite TV plus a DVD player. Please read the TV/DVD operating instructions carefully, to avoid unnecessary frustration! TV reception is via satellite and you can get a number of English language channels, as well as many more Italian and European ones. There is a large selection of DVDs of English language films.
There is wi-fi internet access, but you need to ask in advance to have this switched on: the charge is €2.50 per day.
9. There is gas central heating in almost all rooms – but you’re very unlikely to need it in Summer (the thermostat is in the entrance-hall). Gas is the most expensive fuel in our region, because it’s a piped butane supply, not natural gas; so we’d really appreciate your not using the central heating unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Please make sure you turn the thermostat down to 5-degrees after use.
10. Should it get really cool in the evenings, there’s a portable electric heater (in the Lavender bedroom), and a fully functioning wood-burning stove in the dining-room: wood for this is in the basement Utility Room. The fireplace is normally covered over with a wooden board, which is easily removed by tilting it from the bottom, which releases the metal clip at the top. Please make sure you replace the board when you’re out: it stops the fire ashes from blowing about, as well as birds and other creatures from getting into the house. There’s a metal bucket for disposing of the ashes – please use this for any left-over barbecue ashes as well. You can put the ashes on the flowerbed once they’re cool.
11. All the rooms have shutters. If it’s windy or rainy, please keep them firmly closed, or the weather will follow you into the house! In the heat they also keep the house cool. If you’re going out, please make sure you close all the shutters before you leave (including the ones on the terrace doors): the weather does change unexpectedly in the mountains.
12. The Beds:
All the mattresses are new so your backs won’t suffer! In the big wardrobe in the Yellow Room (at the front of the house) there are loads of sheets, duvet-covers, pillowcases, blankets and towels. Tablecloths, napkins and tea-towels are in a separate basket downstairs, under the TV set. Please always use a table-cloth and / or mats on the dining-room table. If you aren’t using duvets or pillows (or need extra ones), there are special plastic zipped bags for them in the cupboard in the blue (rear) bedroom.
Before you leave, please put towels & bed linen in the laundry basket on the landing and Sandra will deal with these as part of the final clean. Please always leave the mattress covers on the mattresses.
13. The kitchen:
In addition to the usual plates, mugs, cutlery, pots, pans, glasses, you’ll probably find staple foods like oil, vinegar, tea bags, honey, sugar, pasta left by whoever was there before you. It should have everything your heart can desire (we hope - including a garlic press!).
The Washing machine is new and very stable, but please don’t leave anything on top when you’re using it, just in case. Make sure the outflow hose is hanging over the sink and the water-supply tap is on: turn anti-clockwise to open. Please turn the tap off after use, as the feed-hose is not made to withstand continuous mains pressure.
The machine is easy to use but instructions for all equipment and gadgets are in the third drawer down under the marble worktop.
The fridge / freezer should be on all the time; but if there’s been a gap in occupation and it’s been defrosted, plug it into the block on the tiling at the left-hand side.
The oven and hob are gas: the gas may have been switched off if there’s been a gap in occupation. It’s the yellow tap between the fridge and the washing machine: ‘on’ is the vertical position. Like many European models, the hob has a ‘low’ setting on all rings. Some of them tend to go out in this position, even though a small amount of gas is still being emitted; so please be careful to make sure all the knobs are set in the vertical ‘off’ position when the stove isn’t in use.
There’s a microwave on the shelf above the fridge, and also a small electric oven, which you’ll find on the shelf on the basement stairs: very useful for baking small dishes.
The toaster and electric kettle (no mean feat to find one in Italy!) are what you’d expect – but there’s no warning light to tell you when the kettle’s on.
For coffee, there are a Gaggia espresso machine, filter coffee-maker, a Bodum-style plunger AND a hob-top Espresso maker. Use the smallest gas-ring for the latter, or you’ll find the handle gets VERY hot! If you’ve not used one of these before, you need to make sure you turn off the ring as soon as the coffee’s filled up the top chamber, or you may melt the safety valve.
The double sink has a great drying area for plates and glasses in the cupboard above.
Cleaning materials are kept either in the small cupboard in the wall under the kitchen window or under the glass-cupboard in the sitting/dining-room; buckets and brushes are in the shower room; the washing-up bowl and brush-and-dust pan are in the storage area on the left-hand side of the oven. Please replace any cleaning agents (washing-up liquid, bleach, washing-powder and so on) if you use up what’s there on your arrival.
Candles: Please ALWAYS use candles inside jars or on dishes, so they don’t drip everywhere. DON’T leave them unattended, and please don’t use them anywhere except on the dining tables or on the terrace, or the smoke alarms will activate.
14. The Terrace: is our joy. You can eat out there, watch the stars (and especially shooting-stars) at night and the changing moods of the mountains. You’ll find 6 terrace chairs, a padded lounger, a plastic sunbed, a parasol and a terrace table - (they may need bringing up from the basement). There are four “accent lights” on the wall (and four more in the garden below): these come on automatically after sunset, but won’t give you enough light except for romance! There are also a round metal table and white plastic chairs in the basement for use in the garden.
The terrace and garden electric lights are controlled by a master switch just to the left of the garden door in the basement. PLEASE SWITCH IT OFF BEFORE FINALLY LEAVING THE HOUSE. The individual lights have their own switches just below each unit.
Please don’t leave the parasol outside if you’re not around the house and leave it down if you’re going to be off the terrace for any time – when the wind gets up, it can take off and vanish down the valley! Likewise, in the unlikely event that really windy weather is forecast, please stack the plastic chairs on the terrace. Please take the parasol and the padded cushions indoors at night: a heavy dew will make them unpleasant to sit on at breakfast! It’s also a good idea to close the outer terrace doors at night and when you’re away from the house: if it rains and the wind’s in the ‘wrong’ direction, it can blow the water through into the kitchen!
There’s a barbecue, which will either be in the basement or the kitchen; please don’t leave it outside if rain is likely. Dispose of COLD ash either around the plants in the garden or in the trashcan. Please use only the metal ash-bucket by the fire for this purpose.
In Summer, hot days can be very hot, and you get the sun from 1000h in the morning all day on the terrace.
KEYS TO THE TERRACE DOORS: please leave in the doors on the inside, or in the little pot on the little shelf next to the shower room. Don’t leave the internal terrace doors unlocked if you’re going out: it’s very unlikely that anyone will try and break in, but better to be safe.
15. Tap water is perfectly OK to drink. The pressure can, however, be variable, especially in dry periods. Water is metered and the price is deliberately kept high, so please don’t waste it!
16. The vacuum-cleaner is stored behind the curtain on the landing, along with the iron & ironing-board.
17. Please water our plants (on the terrace and in the garden) when it’s hot & dry. There’s a hose in the garden – use early morning or in the evening.
18. INSECTS: mosquitoes are not common, because we’re in the mountains, though wasps and hornets do drop in from time to time! So also do black scorpions: they look fearsome and can sting, but are NOT dangerous, unless you’re generally allergic to insect stings. DO check shoes / boots before you put them on, as well as towels, which are all favourite places for them to lie in wait for passing prey (insects, not humans!).
19. If there’s been a long break in occupation, the valve on the toilet in the upstairs bathroom may stick. It’s easily released by lifting up the valve and then letting it fall back; there’s a tube of grease on the shelf in the Utility Room: a little is all that’s required to lubricate the valve.
20. Other bits and pieces:
SOCKETS: are both 2- and 3-pin Italian. You’ll need an adaptor-plug for anything you bring from the UK (though there is a UK extension block in the Dining Room).
GUIDE BOOKS, COOKERY BOOKS AND MAPS: plenty to cover all areas on the bookshelves in the entrance hall. Please don’t take them away when you leave – they’re a service for all guests!
GUEST, COMMENTS & SUGGESTION BOOK: we’re hoping everyone will contribute to this. Feel free. Favourite places, restaurants, shops – we want to know anything you discover, like, don’t like, think is missing or would improve the house. Please sign and be honest!
21. SOME WEBSITES YOU MAY FIND USEFUL:
There are Internet cafés / points in Gallicano (in the computer shop at the bottom of the hill on the road that goes up to Molazzana, near the Post Office), Castelnuovo (in the mobile phone shop by the arcade in the old town) and in Lucca (several, including one on the square at the Porta San Donato in the Information Bureau).
(URL HIDDEN) is our own web address – the photos on it may help you to orientate yourself!
(URL HIDDEN) will give you all the local news and what’s on material in English.
(URL HIDDEN) does the same for the Lucca area.
(URL HIDDEN) gives all the area’s (and beyond) cultural events – in Italian.
(URL HIDDEN) does the same, but for a much larger area and you can book tickets online here. You can also choose an English option.
(URL HIDDEN) is where you can buy time for your mobile phone, so that you only pay local rates for local calls.
http/:leif.(URL HIDDEN) is our Danish friends’ website. They post items of local interest from time to time.
22. Check List before leaving the house…
Strip beds; towels, linens in laundry basket on landing.
Unplug all equipment in all rooms, except the fridge.
Stack/store terrace furniture (padded-lounger cushions and parasol
MUST be inside house).
Empty bins and take rubbish to the village rubbish containers
If no one is coming after you (Sandra will know), please throw away any perishable foods. Store anything else that isn’t in glass inside the cupboards – we don’t want unwelcome “visitors”.
Turn the central heating down to 5C (if you’ve used it).
Switch off the master switch for the garden / terrace lights.
Put the barbecue in the kitchen or down in the basement.
Give the keys to Sandra (if you’re leaving very early or late, put them in a marked envelope through the door)
Leave money for Sandra for cleaning on the kitchen table – or give it
to her in person the day before.
If you’ve used the fire / barbecue, please clear up all the fine ash and(URL HIDDEN)put it in the trash, or on the flower-beds in the garden.
Close and lock all windows and shutters and external doors.
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RESTAURANTS AND MORE TIPS FOR YOUR STAY
PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST! Also phone numbers, useful directions, closing days. Add “restaurant cards” to our growing collection in the marked folder in the house, where you’ll find more restaurants than those listed here, and addresses / phone numbers for them all.
Even though there are no restaurants in the village, the food round about is wonderful. You’ll find all kinds of typical Tuscan and Garfagnana dishes and at very reasonable prices. Moreover, some restaurants are members of the famous “SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT” of which we are members and great fans. It’s always best to book ahead if you can. We’ve marked our favourite places for food / drink quality (+, ++, +++).
Holidays and closing days are varied. Generally MONDAY is the quietest day of the week. Only the bigger restaurants will take credit cards – always ask in advance.
LOCAL TO VERGEMOLI
++IL RONDONE: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) - opposite the Grotta del Vento, near Fornovolasco. Good food, very cheap, recommended, but has often been closed recently.
++IL VOLPINO: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) at Calomini – wonderful pizzas (their speciality), though the rest of the menu is rather ordinary. House wine is good. ONLY OPEN Friday / Saturday dinner, Sunday all day. About €18 per person.
+++BONINI: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)…[closed TUESDAY] on the road between Castelnuovo and Monteperpoli. Take the route to Castelnuovo (through Calomini and Brucciano, down towards Molazzana, then sharp left through Montaltissimo); Bonini is on the right just after you join the main road to Castelnuovo (about 4 km beyond Brucciano). All food is home-made, including excellent pasta made from chestnut flour; pork chops and rabbit with olives come recommended. The food this year has been outstanding! Piergiorgio Bonini is a trained sommelier and has some wonderful wines – he’s particularly good on unusual Tuscan reds, and dessert wines. Cheap lunches (most places do cheap “set lunches”).
Cost for 3 courses a la carte incl. house wine and coffee: about €40 (more if you buy wines from the list).
++RISTORANTE DAL TOTTO (also known as BAR PUCCI): (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) (+ Mob: +(PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN))…[closed MONDAY] in the gorgeous village of SASSI. 20 minutes’ drive. Take the Calomini road, then on to Brucciano. When you reach the T-junction 2km beyond Brucciano, go left up the hill (the opposite direction to that for Castelnuovo) – the turning for Eglio-Sassi is on the right.
Family-run restaurant, with excellent antipasti in particular.
Cost about €15 - 20 per person for 4 set courses including house wine.
EREMO DI CALOMINI: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)…monastery and restaurant between Gallicano and Vergemoli. Turn left off the road down to Gallicano – it’s well signposted.
GALLICANO and around
+++L’ELISEO: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)…[closed TUESDAY] on Via Cavour 28. Run by an Italian and his wife from Birmingham (so, yes, English is spoken!) and cooked by his old Mum. Great simple, hearty food…try the Zuppa di Verdure and the Zuppa di Farro (a Garfagnana speciality made from a grain allied to wheat but looking like barley) – one guest says it’s worth the visit just for the soup; very good pasta with sage, tasty saltimbocca and fresh trout. Bar open for drinks all day, food served from 1900h. Chianti on tap can be bought to take home: €3-4 per litre
Cost c. €25 for 3 course incl. coffee & wine.
+IL DRUIDO…very good pizzas…also has a wine cellar (ENOTECA)…on the road out to Lucca: go out of the main square straight past the Post Office and the road to Molazzana, turn right at the T-junction, and you’ll see it straight ahead of you at the next major junction (about 750m).
++IL GALLO GOLOSO: café, bakers, patisseries, home-made ice cream…on the Piazza Della Posta.
(NB. THE TOWN’S POSTBOX IS ON THE WALL JUST OUTSIDE: BRIGHT RED!)
++ROSTICCERIA on the Via Cavour, just down from Eliseo. Not a restaurant but a snack-food shop - very good for antipasto to take home.
+++ (in Barga) TRATTORIA L’ALTANA: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)…[closed WEDNESDAY]…on Via di Mezzo (at the top of the town, on the left, just inside the gate from the car park) excellent food all round. Menu changes regularly. House wine very good and very cheap. Around €25 per person for four courses including wine and coffee.
CASTELNUOVO (DI GARFAGNANA) and around
+++IL VECCHIO MULINO: on the Via Vittorio Emanuele 11 (near the upper gate to the Old Town, just beyond the bridge on the left). Famous osteria and wine bar, only open during the day till about (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)h some evenings; closed MONDAY). The food is superb and almost everything – including all cheeses and meats and the house wine – is organic and locally produced. Snacks and exquisite lunch platters to sit down to. Run by Andrea Bertucci, a leading light in the SLOW FOOD Movement – very friendly. Stocks a wonderful selection of Tuscan wines, including many so-called ‘Super Tuscans’, and many you will never have heard of!
Lunch selection of torte, cheeses & cured meats, with wine and coffee is c. €16 per person (and you won’t want dinner afterwards!). Some English spoken.
++LA BOTTEGA DEL FATTORE: Essentially a wine-shop with small restaurant attached…run by wine expert Celestino, who will advise on good buys. His range of wines is enormous and the prices are good/ The food is a mixture of soups, and hot and cold main dishes, all home made and very tasty. Not expensive.
+++Il POZZO: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)…[closed WEDNESDAY] in Pieve Fosciana, a small town 3 kms beyond Castelnuovo. Our top favourite formal restaurant to date. Run by another member of Slow Food Movement in Garfagnana, who is also a Master of Wine. Pizzas can only be had in the evening – lunches are incredibly good value. Everything good – and not expensive…dinner about €35 - €40 per person (depending on wine selection). Lunch about €20. English spoken. Recommended dishes: rabbit with shaved truffle, wild boar cutlets, roasted vegetables.
+++LA VILLA DELLE ROSE: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN), at Villa Collemandina, about 10kms north of Castelnuovo. Ask the chef to cook whatever he recommends for the day…you won’t be disappointed. Highly recommended and booking essential.
+Il PONTE DE CESERANA: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)…[closed MONDAY] at Ponte di Ceserana, in Fosciandora, off the road from Gallicano to Castelnuovo (right turn, signposted). Park round to the left over the level crossing. Run by Claudio, a genial Glaswegian Italian, who’s returned to his roots. Good hearty food and good house wine. Cost about €17 per person. Scots spoken.
++ DA LEO: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN), Via Tegrimi 1 – wonderful, bustling bistro, which serves excellent cheap a la carte lunches: many local recipes and specialties. You’ll probably have to queue, but it’s worth it. Their zuppa di faro is great and the various side dishes excellent.
+++ LA BUCA DI SAN ANTONIO: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN), near Da Leo and the Piazza San Michele. Book ahead – this is one of Lucca’s finest and is more expensive – but nothing like you’d pay in the UK. They often do ‘themed’ nights, featuring either local specialities or food from other regions of Italy. They have opened a sister restaurant – GIGLIO: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) – on the Piazza del Giglio. Also recommended.
+++BUTTERFLY: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) on the left-hand side of the Via Brennero at Marlia, just before the Esselunga supermarket. The food here is exquisite and is best described as ‘nouvelle Italian’ – really original variations on traditional recipes, such as egg with shaved white truffle baked on a bed of swiss chard. In Summer, you dine outside in their beautiful garden. More expensive than most, but the food is worth it…you won’t be disappointed. The Sapore del Mare taster menu – at €60+ for c. 7 courses – is worth every cent!
(++) ACCASATUA: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN) in the village of Lammari, between Lucca and Marlia…turn right at the Esselunga and it’s a couple of km down on the right. Much praised, relatively new restaurant. We don’t think it’s quite as good as Butterfly, but your reports will be welcome…